Hi friends & welcome back to the blog! Today I am going to share with you a guest post from my friend Midori about how to end bedtime battles with your toddlers for once and for all!
If your child is anything like mine (2.5 years old), bedtime can sometimes be a struggle – there’s the infamous stalling technique, the crankiness of being overtired, the excitement of the world around them & not wanting to stop playing, and more. All of these factors affect your child’s bedtime routine.
However, there are some simple tips Midori has for ending these bedtime battles and bringing peace back into your bedtime routine with your toddlers.
Before we get started, I’d love for you to read these recent posts of mine – you will love them:
- Returning to School during COVID-19
- 2020 Baby Registry Must-Haves from a Not-So-New Mom
- 5 Easy & Developmentally-Beneficial Sticker Toys for Toddlers
Also, I’d love if you shared this post on Pinterest or Twitter! That would help me and other moms out there looking for this information! Now, let’s get to it!
Toddler Bedtime Battles: 4 Simple Ways to End Bedtime Battles for Good
It’s been a long day mommying hard, and you just want to have some free time! I get it. Boy, do I get it.
I wish the biggest conflicts in the day didn’t spring up on me when I first wake up (put your clothes on battles) and right before I’m settling into the evening (bedtime battles). It’s definitely the worst way to start and end the day.
I don’t know if any mom has these conflicts completely, 100%, fully resolved, and maybe I’m just giving advice that is just repetitive and common sense, but if I can help another mom have a little less stress by the end of the day, I’m all about it.
I’m also all ears if you have any tips on bedtime battles. Just to give you a little background, I have two boys- a five year and a two year old. These are just tips that work for my boys. Every child is different, and what may work for one may be quite destructive for another. But, in the small chance your kiddo(s) might also respond positively, I’ll share my two cents.
Here are 4 things that have dramatically helped me feel less stressed about bedtime battles and routines:
1. I start bedtime routines 1-2 hours before I want kids to actually physically be in bed.
I know this may sound so so crazy, but over the years I’ve realized most of the stress of bedtime battles is because I’m on a deadline. My kiddos could not care less when or if they sleep at all. Ever!
Because they are both early risers, my goal is always to get them in bed by 7pm. My youngest does 7-7 and my eldest does 7-6. This means I’m starting their bedtime routine between 5-6pm.
Our bedtime routine looks like this:
I know I’m going to have to ask my 5 year old to change out of his clothes, put his clothes in the laundry, and put on his pajamas a bajillion times. The shirt will come off, but then those distracting Legos all over the floor catch his eye. He’s onto making a sled. Then the pants come off but he’s forgotten to grab his sock when he put his shirt in the laundry. And Oh! He forgot all about that cool string thingee he was building earlier in the corner. So many fun things everywhere!
After getting dressed, then it’s telling him to brush his teeth and floss his teeth over and over and over again. After that, I do his teeth a second time. Then he chooses his books, which again is another distraction because reading! Reading is so fun. I get it. And then we read something out of the Bible, talk about our highs and lows, read for 15 minutes, and lastly, pray.
Meanwhile, I’m also changing my youngest into pajamas and a fresh diaper and doing his teeth as well.
A change in my perspective
My point is that the routine, along with all the nagging I have to do, takes a long time.
As important as it is to me to get my kids adequate sleep, I also want to appreciate that kids force us to slow down and stop and smell the roses. In this moment, those “roses” happen to be a fascinating Lego sled that wow! Actually looks symmetrical and much better than anything I could make.
Not to say there aren’t days where I yell (I do) or I have to take some disciplinary actions (I do), or it ends up in a meltdown (it does), but the point is I don’t want to be that mom that is always rushing my kids about here and there and everywhere all day long all the way to bed, which I catch myself being. I don’t like that version of me.
Affording myself a good chunk of time to get it all done makes me less stressed and has me acting a bit more patient (some days at least) because I know I’m not feeling rushed. I’m more pleasant and I like myself more when I allow myself all this time, and that in and of itself is worth the extra time cushion. Maybe I’ll even sit for a minute and admire that weird string thingee he created? Why not? We have 2 hours before bed.
2. I always end the last meal with a BIG warning.
Man my boys can eat. And man, my five year old can make excuses. His favorite is the common rebuttal when he finds out it’s time to get ready for bed- “But I’m hungryyyyyyyy!!!” This is where I have to backtrack and make sure I cover all my bases.
During our evening dinner, before the kids are allowed to leave their food or leave the table, I always try to remember to warn them, “This is it. Once you leave the table, the kitchen is closed for the day. There is no more food available after this until you wake up in the morning. Are. You. Full????”
For some reason, if I don’t give this warning at dinner, then I feel guilty if I don’t give into a plea for food right before bed because what if they really are hungry??? But if I did give this warning, I feel fully justified in denying food right before bed. Anything to help me sleep well at night, I guess. Haha!
3. Bedtime is for sleep. That’s it.
This rule has been in affect my kids’ entire lives, and I will live and die by it. Okay I’m a bit dramatic and also a bit of a sleep stickler, but let me tell you, it’s soo soo effective.
One of my friends has been having a hard time getting her four year old to sleep. She’s set up a play area that she’s allowed to be in after bedtime routines are done. It’s just outside her bedroom so she doesn’t wake up her younger sister sleeping in the same room. My friend is happy if she plays quietly and leaves mommy and daddy alone.
But what do kids do when you give them an inch? They take a mile, yes they do. So of course it doesn’t end up being a quiet, play alone situation, does it? No, it becomes a loud, let-me-go-see-if-mom-and-dad-will-play-with-me-too kind of a situation.
Lessen the stimuli and increase the sleep
I encourage you, if you can do it from the get-go, to set up the expectation that beds are for sleeping, and that’s it. Bedtime is for sleeping, and that’s it.
Even as an adult, I try to follow this. The bed is for sleep and sex, that’s it. No laptops on the bed; no work on the bed.
My youngest only has two stuffed animals, a water bottle, and a blanket in his bed. My eldest has a stuffed animal and a water bottle in his bed. He is not allowed to get out of bed or even be sitting up after lights are out (unless he has to go to the bathroom). Of course he still gets out of bed with one or two more things he needs to tell us every few nights or so, but the majority of the time, both boys are asleep no later than 30 minutes after we put them down at 7.
Usually they’re asleep in minutes! When they have nothing to be stimulated by, they can get to sleep sooner and easier. It’s like anything in life, when you don’t have any other options, you just accept it and yield.
4. I finally dropped my 4.5 year old’s nap.
I don’t know what it is about giving up that last nap that is soo soo hard for us moms. Actually, I do know. Giving up that last nap feels like surrendering our last bit of freedom.
What I didn’t know was that by holding on so dearly to that last nap, I was creating unnecessary bedtime battles of wills by the end of the day. “But I’m not tired!!!” he would yell. He was right. He wasn’t tired. But boy was I tired of fighting with him to sleep.
I can’t tell you when the right time is to give up that last nap. I probably should have dropped his last nap sooner. What I can tell you is that if bedtime routines are over and you’re dealing with a kid who can’t fall asleep, and it’s taking him an hour or more to settle in, then it might be time to drop that last nap.
We went from that to asleep in less than 30 minutes. Like I said, most nights it’s asleep in minutes! If it’s the idea of giving up your freedom that keeps you from surrendering that last nap, just change your perspective and see that 1-3 hours in the middle of the day is now given to you in the evening!
This week at 7pm my girl friend and I went paddle-boarding on the lake for two hours before sun down! It’s freedom at a different time of the day.
So these are the things that have helped us win (some of) the bedtime battles.
I give myself 1-2 hours to complete the entire bedtime routine, I make sure to warn my kids that dinner is their last chance to eat, I don’t give my kids options to play after their bedtime routine, and I finally dropped the last nap for my now 5 year old.
Again, every child is different! Gosh, every night is different! Whatever you do, don’t be hard on yourself.
What are some things that have helped bring joy into your evenings? Or at least lessened the stress of bedtime battles? I’d love to know!
Wow, Midori – that was a fantastic handful of tips on lessening the stress of bedtime battles! Seriously. I have learned a lot by reading this. It may be time to consider dropping my 2.5 year old’s nap (maybe – maybe not).
Midori is a fashion and lifestyle blogger who writes for apple shaped women at http://midorilei.com/. Aside from style and beauty posts, she also writes about her other obsessions – dessert and foodie finds, weirdly useful life hacks, body positivity, and self-care. You can download her free capsule wardrobe for apple shapes here.
If you are new here, welcome! Be sure to read more about me by going here!
If you are a stepmom, or know of one, please head to The Stubborn Stepmom – a section on my blog devoted to stepmoms and unique struggles we have being part of blended families.
If you’re a blogger, like me, or in the social media business, check out Leslie W. Business Babes – a section on my blog devoted to helping businesswomen start or maintain their blogging & social media businesses. So many resources there (free ones too!)
Well, that’s all for me and Midori on bedtime battles today friends! I hope you enjoyed this. Make sure you sign up for my email list below so that you never miss a blog post by me!
Take care & as always, thanks for reading!